"Disparity By Design" as written by Zach Blair, Joseph Principe, Timothy Mcilrath and Brandon Barnes....
Awake at the bottom
Of the barrels we cry out
So ashamed of our tears that
We blame only ourselves
That's when they win
They keep us convinced
To lift up our chins
These playing fields are level
We all have a chance
With that they dismiss
The fast lanes they row
What it takes, it depends on who you know
Or where you came from
Whose daughter are you?
Whose fortunate son?
Will it so
To stick up our bones
And piece from the letters
How we settled the crimes

Is this an over-reaching arm
Or is this compassion?
Is this a handout undeserved
Or a just reparation?
(a just reparation)

Away from the towers
High above the ceiling tombs
Tell themselves
That they've earned this
Like working hard
Or playing by the rules
But this is only part true
A dangerous trick
Played on me and you
And so like a practical joke
We put on these bootstraps
So high that they broke

Is this an over-reaching arm
Or is this compassion?
Is this a handout undeserved
Or a just reparation?

And like a single domino
That falls while the rest stay vertical
Will you fear these empty fairytales
Or will you believe them?

And if fear's a game
You better pray
That this sleeping giant never wakes

If we just take a step back
A bigger picture we might view
Perhaps the man in the gutter
Is not so different from you

Come in, all of the cold
Forget all that you know
Because there's always been room
By the fire for you, oh
Come in, all of the cold

Will you believe them?
Is this an over-reaching arm
Or is this compassion?
Is this a handout undeserved
Or a just reparation?
And like a single domino
That falls while the rest stay vertical
Will you fear these empty fairytales
Or will you believe them?


Lyrics submitted by WillCreary, edited by curtisngl, gonza10000, togardenofeden

"Disparity by Design" as written by Joseph Principe Brandon Barnes

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Disparity By Design song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentThe lyrics are wrong, this is from the book:

    All the way at the bottom
    Of these barrels we cried out
    So ashamed of our tears that
    We blame only ourselves
    And that's when they win
    They keep us convinced
    To lift up our chins
    These playing fields are level
    We all have a chance
    With that they dismiss
    The fast lanes they rode
    In which access depends
    On who you know
    Or where you came from
    Whose daughter are you?
    Whose fortunate son?
    We're told to stick out our thumbs
    They feast from the linens
    While we settle for crumbs

    Is this an over-reaching arm?
    Or is this compassion?
    Is this a handout undeserved?
    Or a just reparation?

    All the way from the towers
    High above the glass ceilinged tombs
    Tell themselves that they've earned this
    By working hard and playing by the rules
    But this is only part true
    A dangerous trick played on me and you
    And so, like a practical joke
    We pulled on these bootstraps
    So hard that they broke

    Is this an over-reaching arm?
    Or is this compassion?
    Is this a handout undeserved?
    Or a just reparation?
    Like a single domino
    That falls like the rest stay vertical
    We're fed these empty fairy tales
    Will you believe them?

    If there's a God you better pray
    That this sleeping giant never wakes

    If we just took a step back
    A bigger picture we might see
    Perhaps the man in the gutter
    Is not so different from you

    Come in out of the cold
    Forget all that you know
    Because there's always been room
    By the fire for you
    Come in out of the cold

    Will you believe them?
    Is this an over-reaching arm?
    Or is this compassion?
    Is this a handout undeserved?
    Or a just reparation?

    Like a single domino
    That falls like the rest stay vertical
    We're fed these empty fairy tales
    And I'm through believing


    They're basically saying that our current capitalist system is designed to favor those already in power. They (the higher ups in power) say that all people have a fair chance to get to where they are, but that is false because they were born privileged.

    By accepting that we have a fair chance to succeed (when we don't), we are accepting their lies (Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is impossible to do, but we do it anyways to try and get wealthy, hence the practical joke). Also, they are saying a redistribution of wealth is just and morally right because these people who are poor and "unsuccessful" never had a fair chance in the first place.
    theglorioustsaron March 21, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentFreakin awesome song, It's about how we are always told "you can be anything you wan't when you grow up" when in reality that is not entirely true. Half of it is just luck, just who you know
    or where you came from
    whose daughter are you?
    whose fortunate son?


    if we just take a step back
    a bigger picture we might view
    perhaps the man in the gutter
    is not so different from you

    Is another great part, just because somebody doesn't have good clothes and is in the street doesn't mean they really are any different than you.
    mrdrprofon March 15, 2011   Link
  • +4
    Song Meaningit is about capitalist propaganda telling everybody they are born equal when in actual fact the system has been set up to slow or stop the rise of just anybody to a position of power, theirfore polarising power and stopping the distribution of wealth. like the trickle down economy business. it's rubbish guised as a good option
    resist360on April 11, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"Disparity By Design" is about elitism and how people tell their kids that "they can be anything they want to be", but this is not actually be true. The system is rigged so that those who are rich will stay rich, and their children will have the free ride through life because their parents were doctors or lawyers or CEOs. So the system is designed to cause disparity to all the people who actually work hard and believe that they can go as high as their abilities will take them.

    It's about how the social class structure is extremely rigid in America and how the richest people resist the upward movement of people from the middle class. How far a kid might go in life depends on whether their parents went to Ivy League Schools or are some wealthy investor. When a person from the middle class fails to make it "big time" a rich snob can just say "Oh, well you didn't work as hard as I did." When in reality it is the system that is designed to screw over the middle class people.

    And in the end the narrator says,

    "Like a single domino
    That falls like the rest stay vertical
    We're fed these empty fairy tales
    And I'm through believing"

    Meaning that he's not going to keep on believing the lies the people at the top are saying when they speak the words, "Work hard and one day you can be like me." because he knows it's just not true.

    I don't think it's necessarily against capitalism, just against the social elites who have designed the system so that it is not the best person who gets to the top. They hold others down in order to keep themselves where they are in life.

    Middle Class FTW!
    Benny3092on April 17, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFuck the elite is what this song is about.
    zer00rdieon March 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe chorus of any song will tell you what a song is about. Everything else is a supporting statement. With that thought, I believe this song is about social programs. This song is entirely political.

    Aside from the chorus, here are other social program references:

    If we just took a step back
    A bigger picture we might see
    Perhaps the man in the gutter
    Is not so different from you

    Come in out of the cold
    Forget all that you know
    Because there's always been room
    By the fire for you
    Come in out of the cold
    ------------------------------

    ----

    Next, we have this:

    All the way from the towers
    High above the glass ceilinged tombs
    Tell themselves that they've earned this
    By working hard and playing by the rules
    But this is only part true
    A dangerous trick played on me and you
    And so, like a practical joke
    We pulled on these bootstraps
    So hard that they broke


    Will you believe them?
    Is this an over-reaching arm?
    Or is this compassion?
    Is this a handout undeserved?
    Or a just reparation?

    They're talking about how Republican politicians like to talk about how we're all the same- hard working Americans (they include themselves in this) - and how we don't want those tax hikes (that are meant to support social programs) b/c they worked hard for their money. Why should anyone else get what they "worked hard for?" Meanwhile, they leave out the fact that under the proposed tax hikes, only the upper tier see the biggest tax increase(themselves); while the people who could actually benefit from these social programs are duped into believing the Republican lies and vote against something that could actually help them. The wealthy don't have to pay their fair share, and so, the wealthy stay wealthy, and the poor stay poor. THIS is how the little guy is kept down. That's what this song is about.

    I think it would be entirely hypocritical for the band to say that you have to be wealthy to make wealth. Were they wealthy before they became big? How much money have they made? Do you see where I'm going? I think Rise Against is much deeper than that. You need to understand WHY, instead of making blanket statements. This song is very nicely done & delivers are powerful message.

    Also, I don't think he's talking about himself when he says he's through believing. Maybe going into character of someone who woke up from the lies. Great closing line for a character in the music video.
    katymcdonaldon July 25, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe begining part of this song songs so similar to "meeting of the minds" by Bad Religion
    i think thats cool since they are touring together
    dfgracingon March 13, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's "come in out of the cold"
    reldude4445on March 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI see a lot of people completely missed the message of this song, about it being a biased system.

    "Will you fear these empty fairy tales? Or will you believe them?"

    So yes, in a sense, you are right that we acknowledge that it the system is tilted in the favor of the those who are already wealthy; however, there are two choices. You can say it's too hard to work your way to the top (fearing the empty fairy tale), or you can acknowledge that I'll do whatever it takes to get there.

    "If there's a god, you better pray. That this sleeping giant, never wakes."

    If there is a god, the social elite better pray those people who they tell they can do anything, never actually take that advice, because they will take from them that which they didn't want enough.

    "There has always been room by the fire for you."

    There's always been a place for your success in life, but will you put in the time and effort to get there.
    theLgndKllr35on May 29, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Away from the towers
    High above the ceiling tombs
    Tell themselves
    That they've earned this
    Like working hard
    Or playing by the rules
    But this is only part true
    A dangerous trick
    Played on me and you
    And so like a practical joke
    We put on these bootstraps
    So high that they broke"

    When I hear the references to towers and warfare I have an image of the war on terror after 9/11. It sounds like RS is hinting that the war, after dragged out for so long, has exhausted the nation's resources and the soldiers so much that their bootstraps are breaking. Now I'm not gonna spout any conspiracy BS, but the war should've ended already, yet it's as if the soldiers have fallen for a practical joke.
    Geasson September 25, 2012   Link

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